Following up from the honor of being selected in Huffington Posts Top 12 Global Education Blogs of 2014-2017 I have been chosen again in this amazing group and for 2018 will be contributing to Huffington Post’s Education blog once a month. This month we look at the following highly controversial topic “ What should a holistic approach to learning look like and how do we shift the focus from the accountability measures in existence now to one that’s relevant for all students in a changing world?” – here is my response:
Over the past month, I have noticed a flurry of discussions about the Fourth Industrial Revolution and a movement of discussions away from “21st Century Learning” and more of a focus on “next generation learning”. I personally love this change of thought process which to me allows for a more holistic approach to learning.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. It is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields, including robotics, artificial intelligence, the blockchain, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, The Internet of Things, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles.
The exciting part for educators is to see how this integrates into our schools and classrooms to add value to learning without adding more work or complexity to our already busy jobs.
I believe that in schools we are starting to see the transition slowly (and in pockets). Technology is evolving quickly however and the gap between education and the rest of the world’s industries is slowly growing. My biggest fear is that if we don’t keep up we will be left behind.
In my school in Singapore, we are doing our best to not only keep up with the changing face of digital learning but to lead it as well. We know the importance of this for ourselves as learners and for the students in our care every day. We have developed a new digital learning model (that has been 18 months in development) that we are rolling out next year focussing on the ISTE standards and looking at core skill development of our teachers (e.g. collaboration, communication, digital citizenship, innovative designer, computational thinker) to ensure they are confident in developing these skills in their students. In my opinion, schools MUST invest in their teachers first and foremost before technology if they are to see a positive change in uptake of digital tools and skills for learning in the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
Using the energy and ideas of global leaders such as George Couros and Abdul Chohan my school is transforming “the way we do things” to be more adaptive and more energized about change and more thoughtful about the holistic view of our learners. Some examples include the inclusion of such non-negotiables for our teachers as “every teacher will be an Apple Certified teacher” and “every teacher will be a Common Sense Certified educator”. These, of course, require time and energy and dedicated leaders (our digital learning team) to support them. My school is willing to do it to ensure we have a minimum expectation that directly impacts the learning that happens in our classrooms while helping upskill our teachers to a level that we feel is appropriate to lead learning in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The other keyword we are using is “consistency”. The consistency of practice by leaders, Consistency of approaches and strategies by teachers, Consistency of professional learning opportunities, Consistency of what happens across classes, grade levels and from division to division and Consistency of leadership. It is an exciting time to be a part of my school and you can follow our journey through the learning story created and shared by teachers using the school hashtag #SAISrocks.
For the most part, our kids know more than we do when it comes to technology and how to use it.
The biggest mindset change we are working on with our teachers is that it is OK not to know, but it is not OK to sit back and do nothing about it. Embrace change and learn with the kids, maybe even empower them to lead and teach too.
Schools around the world MUST do their very best to spend time and money firstly on Human resources to upskill our educators to lead the leaders of tomorrow. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here! Time to jump on board and join the ride – it is a wild but rewarding one!